National Day of Prayer celebrated

May 4—Despite the flooding all around the region, the sun did shine Thursday as Walker County took time to participate in the 2024 National Day of Prayer (NDOP). Local parishioners gathered for the multi-denominational event with local Christians to pray for the many aspects of American life.

Inclusive of government, the military, media, business, education, student ministries, the church, the family, and community unity the supplicants also kept a healthy focus on their impacted neighbors in their prayers.

Dr. Alvin Jones—a retired physician—who has led the Walker County NDOP for the last several years, suggested that the rain made those attendees this year, "the chosen."

"We had better weather last year, but we pray those here know that they were chosen by God to be here," Jones said.

A number of participants were prevented from attending the service, like Carmen Irving, whose home flooded overnight. Rev. Otis Cunningham was helping a parishioner clean up after flood waters swept away part of their house. But approximately 100 people braved the elements to be in attendance.

Jones situated the moment the country is going through as pregnant for spiritual revival. He references great awakenings in the 1730's, 1790's, 1858, and 1905 that help usher in societal changes.

"This year, we need to ask something different, and that's to make every day a national day of prayer, so that's why I we can have a reconnection of all our people as one nation under God," said Jones.

Prior to the service, attendees took part in a lunch of chopped brisket sandwiches.

Pastors like Rev. Jeff Hackelman and wife Aileen of Family Faith Church, broke bread with the women of First Missionary Baptist Church. And people from many churches mingled at tables spanning several generations and races until the event started.

Rosalynn Kelly and a small ensemble, represented the Community Choir of local churches originally slated to perform at the service. Kelly emphasized the depth of the flooding crisis in local communities, like Rogersville and Galilee out on Highway 30.

Canton, TX-based Southern Gospel group The Erwin's performed next at the event, with interpretations of popular hymns and choruses of the Christian Church. The siblings engaged the crowd with precise harmonies and displayed lyrics to help the audience to sing along.

Greetings were brought from the City of Huntsville Mayor Russell Humphrey, who presented a City Proclamation, and Walker County Commissioner Ronnie White, stood in for County Judge Colt Christian. Followed by prayers offered by local clergy and lay people like Rev. Reagan Cooksey, Winnie Sandel, Rev. Don Jackson, and Frank Olivares.

Attendees expressed a number of rationales for the importance of the National Day of Prayer. First Baptist Church Youth Pastor Chad Laurain felt it was an important symbol for our children.

"Awakening the hearts and the minds of the youth is important, because if revival is ever going to happen again, it will be in our youths," said Laurain.

One of the young men from First Baptist's Youth Program—Joshua Mahshi—started with unity as the object of his focus, before he added, "I've been struggling with trust with what's in the future, and what God has in store, so I'm gonna pray that God helps me to learn to trust Him more."

Attendee Lisa McKenzie spoke at length about feeling overwhelmed by the prayers of the community over the last year, and how powerful it is when people come together to talk to God. McKenzie, a local business owner, spent much of the last year overcoming serious illness — non-cancerous breast cancer.

"Those prayers meant everything to me," she said, through tears.

The Erwin's closed the event out with an àcappella rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.